SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Front-line Amazon employees can get the full cost of their college tuition covered as soon as 90 days from their start date.
Amazon said over 750,000 employees are eligible for the funding, which includes the cost of books and fees in addition to classes.
The Career Choice program extends to high school diplomas, GEDs, and English as a Second Language (ESL) proficiency certifications as well.
This funding equates to an investment of $1.2 billion by 2025, Amazon said Thursday.
“We know that investing in free skills training for our teams can have a huge impact for hundreds of thousands of families across the country. We launched Career Choice almost ten years ago to help remove the biggest barriers to continuing education — time and money — and we are now expanding it even further to pay full tuition and add several new fields of study,” said Dave Clark, CEO of Worldwide Consumer at Amazon.
The company said it is also now pre-paying the costs, rather than using its previous method of reimbursing employees after they paid for their tuition and fees themselves. The employees can get funding for as long as they remain Amazon workers.
“All 750,000 U.S. hourly employees are eligible to participate in Career Choice 90 days after starting at Amazon. This makes all 400,000 employees who joined the company since the start of the pandemic eligible to access Amazon-funded education opportunities,” Amazon said.
The announcement follows similar pledges by Amazon competitors Walmart and Target.
Walmart said earlier this year that it will pay 100% of college tuition for employees. Target this year also started a “debt-free education assistance benefit” to pay for undergraduate and associate degrees, certificates and other education costs for full-time and part-time employees.
The tuition benefits are a way that major employers this year are trying to keep the workers they have and attract even more who would not have applied otherwise.
Businesses across the country have struggled to fill open positions once the pandemic lockdowns were lifted.
The U.S. economy has recovered nearly 17 million of the over 22 million jobs that were lost once the pandemic was declared in March 2020, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor. But the jobs are available faster than applicants can fill them, the Associated Press reports, leading to employers coming up with new incentives, such as fully paid tuition.
The labor department’s data from summer 2021 also showed wages were up by 4% from the previous year.